Like so many theatres in the greater Portland area, Portland Center Stage has created new ways to keep creatives busy and somewhat employed during the pandemic. It has joined the national theatre project Play at Home, and commissioned four Portland playwrights to create short plays that are designed to be read—and performed—by anyone in the community from their own homes.
Play at Home was developed to inspire joy and connection during this period of social isolation. More than 100 playwrights were commissioned nationwide, resulting in $50,000 paid to playwrights during this difficult time when people can’t gather together in theaters. The Portland plays, plus those from around the country, are all available for FREE at playathome.org.
The short works commissioned by PCS for local writers include:
A Wing and a Prayer by Josie Seid. Four friends, Layla (Robin Pratt), Octavia (Morgan McGhee), Marie (Lauren Steele), and Harlow (Leslie North) plan to spend the evening at a lecture on feminism when they are visited by–Ta-da!–the Fairy Godmother (Kailey Rhodes). The godmother is so frazzled from getting people ready to attend balls that she has lost touch with herself. When she finally remembers her name, Begonia, it turns out it is she who needs a fairy godmother, or four! An excellent treatise on caregiving and survival! (video)
Joy Frickin’ Hates Her Dumb Stupid Room by Sara Jean Accuardi. Joy (Nicole Accuardi) is 13. Joy is locked up because of Coronavirus. And she hates her *&%$###@!!! room. Her friends are starting to go out and do things together, but Joy’s parents will not let her join them. So, Joy is locked up with Dorito the Hamster (Brett Wilson, who turns out to be Heironymus Bosch–the Dutch painter who lived through The Plague and is known for his artistic renderings of Hell and its Demons–reincarnated). Somehow, Bosch, who hates being a hamster, helps Joy come up with a solution. (video)
Three Love Songs by Anya Pearson.
an operatic examination
of quarantine life
To be performed
as a counter to silence
for one or many voices
(no formal singing required)
but please, please,
do have the dance party
and please, please,
please play a 90’s classic
and lemme see a little cabbage patch
or gimme a little butterfly
and record it for me
This is actor-writer-poet-activist Anya Pearson’s introduction to her evocative three-part poem about insomnia and the pandemic (Track One: A Love Song for Survivors, What it’s Like at Night); the terror of writing/not writing during the pandemic (Track Two: A Love Song for Creatives, The Terror of the Blank Page, The White Space, The Unknown); and diversity and inclusion (Track Three: A Love Song for Difference Normal is SOOOO Overrated). You will want to read this again. And again. (script)
The Third Prisoner by E.M. Lewis. In this dystopian world of no calendars, no way of keeping time, no names, and deprivation, two prisoners in a cell know each other only by their numbers. Names are taboo, and fearing punishment they will not tell each other their names. The isolation is palpable. When a third prisoner arrives in the cell, they begin to question the status quo. (script)
These four radically different approaches to what we are living through now may be enjoyed at pcs.org/play-at-home. Read aloud, each play runs about 11 minutes.